Memorial Stadium

How to Appease Husker Fans of All Generations

Nebraska is renowned for having excellent fans who support their Cornhuskers to the end.  The sellout streak at Memorial Stadium will reach 340 by the end of the 2014 season.  But there has always been a divide among Husker fans in the stadium.  There are those fans who want games to be raucous events, and some who would prefer to go, sit, and quietly watch the game.  Typically, that latter group is labeled “blue hairs”, as they tend to be some of the older fans who have had season tickets for decades.  Over the years*, the blue hairs have been telling fans to sit down, shut up, and generally do things that one might consider counter to having a loud, intimidating environment for opposing teams.

*I’ve heard the residents of West Stadium referred to as “blue hairs” since the early 1990s.  Which means that some of the folks who used to complain about blue hairs can now be considered blue hairs themselves.  

The latest example comes to us from the Lincoln Journal Star’s Letters to the Editor page where Charley Ackerman writes to voice his displeasure with the loud volume coming from the new million dollar sound system – it is too loud for him to converse with those in his section.  Charley also is displeased by the quantity of “hip-hop hogwash”* being played from the speakers.

*Seriously, “hip-hop hogwash” might be the greatest combination of letters in the history of the English language.  I cannot adequately express how much I love that phrase.  Hip-hop hogwash.  Hip-hop hogwash.  Hip-hop hogwash.  It never gets old!

Predictably, Charley’s letter has been met with rolled eyes, Internet mockery, and suggestions that he and his fellow blue hairs stay home.  But I don’t think we need to get to that extreme.  Besides, it’s worth noting that the blue hairs – especially those in the West stadium – are often big and long-time donors, whose money is not easily replaced by young alums repaying student loans.

But on the other side, there are fans who think Nebraska is too traditional, too stuck in their ways, too willing to cater to the old farts who have sat in the same seats since LBJ was in office.  They would like to see Nebraska move onto the cutting edge – or at least keep up with other teams that are doing new and exciting things.

So how do we reconcile the wants and needs of these two very diverse sects of the same group?  Simple, we take a page from my hometown church.

The church I grew up in does two services.  The early service is the traditional one with the full scripture readings, old hymns, and beautiful old sanctuary.  The early service at Resurrection Lutheran is almost exactly the same today as it was in 1985, and there is a loyal and devoted crowd (my silver-haired mom included) who would not have it any other way.  It is familiar, it is classic, it is timeless.

The late service is the contemporary one.  It’s held in the fellowship hall and has a small band that leads newer, upbeat songs while overhead screens display scripture and images.  The contemporary service has a more laid-back, fun vibe to it and it also draws a loyal crowd.

Since Nebraska Football is often referred to as the “state religion”, let’s apply these same concepts to the Game Day Experience:

Games with 11 am kickoffs will be the “traditional service”.  The Tunnel Walk will be played, with “Sirius” as the background music.  Speaking of music, most of the in-stadium music will be provided by the Cornhusker Marching Band.  To appease our friend Charley, the speakers will be at a reasonable volume, and no hip-hop hogwash will be played during the traditional service.  (Athletic Department staff will consult with Tom Osborne to see what kind of music he enjoys).  There will be no smoke when Nebraska comes out of the tunnel, no fireworks after scores, and nobody will put up a net when a PAT or field goal is kicked – just throw the ball back down to the field, please.  The large HuskerVision screen in the south end zone will display graphics so it resembles the old First Federal Lincoln scoreboard.  Halftime refreshments will consist of non-alcoholic grape juice and a thin, stale wafer.

Nebraska will always wear their iconic uniforms (red jerseys, white pants, and the white helmet with the sans-serif N), and the congregation will be asked to wear red.  Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck will be asked to limit the number of passes called, and encouraged to run at least three fullback dives as well as an option to the short side of the field.  Prolonged standing is allowed, but will be strongly discouraged.  The wave may occur, but expect it to take several attempts to really get going.  Don’t bother trying to connect to the in-stadium WiFi, because it will be turned off.  But you can tune into Kent Pavelka and Gary Saddlemeyer’s call on KFAB.

Outside of Memorial Stadium on the University ...

Here is the church, those are the steeples…(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Games with 7 pm kickoffs will be the “contemporary service”.  The stadium speakers are cranked up so the residents of Crete can hear what is going on.  Instead of a marching band, Nebraska employs a full-time DJ who spins “hip hop, but no hogwash”.  The big screens and ribbon boards are alive with replays, stats, cat videos, and tweets from @FauxPelini scrolling continuously.  The Tunnel Walk is completely revamped with smoke, lasers, strobe lights, and a new song that gets everybody amped up.  Every game, Nebraska comes out in a new and exciting alternate uniform and helmet, raising the bar for other schools.  Beer vendors will be everywhere in the stadium.

To encourage fans to stand up, the benches in the first 50 rows will be removed.  Depending on the opponent, fans will be asked to wear black, red, or white shirts.  Students will wave towels all game long while performing more organized cheers and chants than a major league soccer team.  The opening offensive play of the second half will be decided by a Twitter poll with #DeepBall being a perennial favorite.  Before the fourth quarter, the entire stadium rocks as the DJ plays the song that puts Wisconsin’s “Jump Around” to shame.

*   *   *

There.  Hopefully this will keep all of Nebraska’s passionate fans excited about coming to games in Lincoln.  More importantly, it will help make sure that folks like Charley can complain about other more pressing issues, like Beck’s play calling, the price of a slice of pizza, or the number of steps up to his seats in section 34.

Husker Hot Takes – 5/28/14

The initial installment of Husker Hot Takes was fun and fairly well received, so we’ll do another round…

1.  The Athletic Department is advertising football season tickets for the first time in a long time.  Should we be worried about the coveted sellout streak?

Okay…technically, the ticket office is advertising the ability to join the wait list for season tickets.  You go to a NU Ticket Office website, select how many tickets you would like, pay a non-refundable $25 deposit, and…that’s as far as I went (I currently have tickets and don’t currently have a need for more).  My guess is in one of the next steps you’re asked how much you’d be willing to donate for season tickets.  My assumption is your response to that question plays a big role in where you end up in line.  (Feel free to correct me where my assumptions are wrong).

First off, does anybody remember the last time Nebraska was advertising football tickets for home games?  In my freshman year at UNL (1993) a letter went out to parents of students giving them the opportunity to buy season tickets, but I’m not aware of anything since then.  (Again, feel free to share information in the comments.)

Maybe this is nothing to be alarmed about, and the University is just restocking the backlog of requests (and seeing if they can generate some new donations).  Or maybe the new East stadium expansion coupled with the increasing allure of watching games at home is putting the vaunted sellout streak – the only thing still standing after the Solich and Callahan eras – in real jeopardy?  We all saw the empty pockets of seats in several home games.  Is that a sign of fan apathy?

I don’t know.  What I do know is the proposed changes for the game day experience coming this fall (better Wi-Fi, better tunes, etc.) should help swing the pendulum from Watch at Home to Watch In Person.  (I also think there is room for more improvements to game day, but that is a separate topic).  Regardless, I do have concerns about the streak.

But, I also think that if you were able to get in on that ticket offer in 1993, you got to see some amazing teams.

2.  Buy Beer in Memorial Stadium?

I recently read a column from Brandon Cavanaugh on entitled “Beer Should Flow in Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium This Fall

With no disrespect to Cavanaugh, I have to say:  No.

It’s not just that conservative Nebraska would never go for it (although that should not be underestimated), it’s that the column doesn’t give me a lot of good reasons for why it should happen.

Cavanaugh cites information from Big Ten peer Minnesota that notes how the Gophers actually lost around $180,000 on beer sales last year (partially due to one-time expenditures), and will likely only see a relatively small profit ($15,000) this year.  Okay, so if we’re not doing it to make money, then why should we do it?

Cavanaugh points to the “fan experience”.  In short, fans who tailgate/prime/pick-your-name-for-pregame-boozing ride an alcohol fueled high for the 1st and 2nd quarters, but as they sober up, the second half is flatter than three day old keg beer.  Additionally, Cavanaugh says selling beer would help keep the students around longer, and give a much-needed boost to the “rowdy” factor.

Yeah…Let’s start with the “fan experience”.  I can think of several non-11 am kickoffs where the crowd in the first quarter has been fairly reserved.  And we all can remember many games where the crowd was deafeningly loud in the fourth quarter.  Were these things impacted by the fans sobriety – or lack thereof?  Nope, I think crowd involvement has more to do with the action on the field than the number of Jim Beam and Cokes I consumed prior to the game.  Obviously, opponents and kickoff times matter.  But even with beer being sold in the stadium, an 11 am kick against Illinois will never match the buzz of a night game against Michigan (pun intended).

As for the student section, Cavanaugh notes that the section is often littered with bottles of hard alcohol.  It’s been several years since I sat over there, but that sure sounds familiar.  Would selling beer in the stadium really make a big dent in those empties?  It says here that students are famously short on cash.  Spending $6 for a 16 oz beer is okay, but the thrifty student knows the bigger bang for their buck is sneaking in a half pint of booze and buying one or two sodas.

Bottom line: I think beer has a better chance of flowing at Pinnacle Bank Arena than Memorial Stadium.  Regardless, I think it will take more than “boosting the fan experience” to get alcohol sales past the Board of Regents.

3. Kenny Bell claims he cuts his hair.  Mass hysteria ensues.

On Tuesday, Kenny Bell tweeted that he “lost a bet” and had to “shave the fro”, accompanied by a picture showing Bell without his glorious head of hair.

I’ll go on record:  I don’t buy it.

I don’t know if the picture was altered, really old, or featured some sort of miracle head band*, but my first thought when I saw that tweet was “Kenny’s a little late with his April Fool’s joke”.

*And seriously, Kenny, if it does turn out to be a miracle head band, can you send me the details on where you got it?  My daughter can rock the ‘fro too, but sometimes we just need it out of the way.  Thanks.

If he truly did shave it, I’ll take it as a sign that he’s going to be locked in and laser focused for his senior season.  If not, I’ll continue to feel that Bell is a fun-loving guy who enjoys pulling a good prank on the media and fans.

4.  Where was BTN for Nebraska’s first round game of the B1G baseball tournament?

Games 1 and 2 (Illinois vs Michigan State and Ohio State vs Nebraska) were not shown.  Games 3 and 4 (Indiana vs Iowa and Minnesota vs Michigan) were shown live on BTN.  Adding to the injustice, instead of Nebraska – Ohio State, BTN viewers had a replay of the 2010 Insight Bowl (Iowa vs Missouri) and the 2007 game* between Purdue and Indiana.

*I get that BTN wants to showcase ALL of their schools, not just the marque brands like Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Penn State, but to consider any football game between Indiana and Purdue as one of “The Big 10’s Greatest Games”, is an insult to the intelligence of any BTN viewer.

I understand the disappointment and even some of the outrage.  That game, and especially the ninth inning comeback would have been fun to watch.  Heck, I even had some fun with it myself.  But at the end of the day, I’m not going to lose too much sleep about it.

Let’s face it:  BTN has spoiled us.  We expect that every football game, every basketball game, and every other key event from around the conference will be presented to us.  That is pretty cool.  Remember kids, we are not all that far removed from the days of paying $29.95 for pay-per-view (with those horrible Ticket Express ads) just to watch a home game.  Seriously, if this is the biggest event that BTN misses in 2014, we  have it pretty damn good.

5.  Who is the Most Disliked Person in Sports for Nebraska?

SI recently came out with a slide show of the “Most Disliked People in Sports” (Spoiler:  Donald Sterling wins easily).  No current Huskers made the list of 35 sporting figures (although Richie Incognito and Ndamukong Suh checked in at #4 and #13, respectively).  I saw a tweet from 1620’s Unsportsmanline Conduct asking who would top the Nebraska list.

Who would you pick?

The most common responses were rather predictable:  Bill Callahan, Kevin Cosgrove, and of course:  Steve Pedersen.  I’ll be honest:  my initial answer was Pedersen too.

But should it be?  I get it:  the man was grossly unpopular and is ultimately responsible for a lot of damage done to the football program and the athletic department as a whole.  “Gravitate towards mediocrity” is in the pantheon of infamous Husker quotes.  But c’mon.  It’s been nearly seven years since he was fired.  Since then Tom Osborne came back and helped us believe again.  We canned Callahan.  We joined a better conference.  The Lincoln campus is awash in beautiful new facilities, and teams in many, many sports are on the rise.  Football is as good – if not better – than it was when Solich was fired.

Shouldn’t we move on?

I’m not saying we should forgive and/or forget.  I’m saying we should move on.  Find somebody new to focus our collective dislike upon.

I just am not sure who yet, (but suggestions are welcome).

Improving the Nebraska Game Day Experience

During his monthly radio show, Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst implied that the athletic department is looking at ways to improve the in-game experience for Husker Football games at Memorial Stadium.

Aside from this being an incredibly shrewd diversion*, it is a topic that many Husker fans have an opinion on.  Including me.

*What diversion?  Consider the last week:  speculation over Bo Pelini’s future swirled before Friday’s Iowa game.  During the game, Pelini had a couple of embarrassing on-camera moments.  After the game, Pelini cursed out the refs and essentially threatened Eichorst to fire him.  On Saturday, Eichorst issued an open-ended statement that calmed the flames, but did not extinguish the fire.  On Tuesday, Eichorst takes to the airwaves with the football media expecting answers.  Instead, he changes the subject.  Improving the game day experience.  Go.


I came up with a list of ten items that I would love see changed/added/improved at Memorial Stadium.  Some are relatively simple.  Some are rather drastic, but would create big results.  But all would help to improve the experience of the 90,000 fans who fill the stadium seven Saturdays a year.

Before we dive in, I feel that it is worth noting (and emphasizing) that Husker fans have it pretty darn good at Memorial Stadium.  I’ve watched the Huskers play in over a dozen different stadiums, and very few can hold a candle to what we have.

And that’s more than just the biased opinion of a Nebraska alum and native son.  Memorial Stadium regularly shows up on lists of best stadiums, best game day experience, best places to watch college football, etc.  Obviously the on-field product has much to do with the consecutive sellout streak, but the experience of being there (instead of sitting in a bar or in my basement watching in HD) is what keeps me coming back.

But there is always room for improvement…

The Cornhusker Marching Band performing a half...

Can you make this even better?  Yes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1.  Upgrade the in-stadium Wi-Fi.  The data service inside of the stadium is rather lousy (or, more appropriately, probably about what one would expect with 70,000 smart phone users in the same place).  Getting a signal, sending a text message, tweet, or Facebook post can be a crapshoot.  We can talk about how fans should be engaged with the action on the field instead of having their heads down, thumbs a-blazin’.  But that does not change the fact that better Wi-Fi is very important to more and more people in the stands.

2.  Turn up the volume.  There are times (such as 11 am kickoffs against nondescript opponents) when there is zero electricity in the stadium.  When that happens, I think it is appropriate to crank up the volume on the sound system to help the crowd wake up.  Ditto for key defensive plays and goal line stands.

3.  Update the playlist.  I don’t know who is in charge of curating  game day music for Husker sporting events, but they must really, really love “Black Betty” by Ram Jam*.  I swear you cannot go to a Husker event without hearing it.  There are some very tired songs in the Memorial Stadium iPod that are long overdue for retirement.  Replace them any number of newer songs that would get players and fans fired up and help the stadium rock.

What songs do I suggest?  Not much.  a) My musical tastes typically don’t lend themselves to football stadiums, and b) I don’t claim to have a pulse on what the kids want to listen to.  I’m not suggesting that Nebraska join the brigade of “Seven Nation Army” schools, but I could get on board with a song that the fans could chant/sing to provide a more intimidating atmosphere.  Here’s a crazy idea:  talk to the players, the captains, etc., and find out what they would like to listen to.

*And if you are still holding on to the notion that “Black Betty” is a good song to play at a college sporting event in 2013, click on the link to watch Ram Jam perform this classic.  Hilarious?  Yes.  Nightmare inducing?  Maybe.  Intimidating?  No.

4.  Leave the Tunnel Walk alone.  I know that I’m about to tiptoe a thin line of hypocrisy, having just blasted a dated classic rock song like “Black Betty”, but I want to keep “Sirius” by The Alan Parsons Project as the music for the Tunnel Walk.  I know it is an older song, the Jordan-era Bulls used it first, and there may be better tracks to use, but for me, “Sirius” IS the Tunnel Walk.  I love those delicious seconds of anticipation between the Husker Power chant (an obvious keeper, by the way) and that first chord of “Sirius.”

We can discuss the videos themselves later, and help separate what works (showing Kenny Bell blowing up Wisconsin defenders) and what doesn’t (Bo Ruud jumping out of an airplane).  But don’t mess with, or try to remix that song.

5.  Make us proud of the Pride.  The Cornhusker Marching Band (a.k.a. “The Pride of All Nebraska”) does a perfectly fine job.  I love their pregame spectacular (another thing that I would never, ever change), and I believe their halftime performances are also acceptably adequate.

But I wouldn’t know.

I’ve been making a break for the aisle at the end of the second quarter for years now.  It’s not disrespect for the band, but rather the knowledge that I’m not going to miss anything if I enjoy a hotdog inside the north concourse.

I wrote about this last year, and the same still holds true:  very little in what the band does at halftime interests me.

Maybe that is something the Athletic Department is okay with.  I’m less likely to buy my usual hot dog and Diet Dew if I stay in my seat to watch a halftime performance.  But surely Nebraska would like to have some of the viral buzz that schools like Ohio State, Ohio, Hawaii, and others have received for their fun and imaginative halftime shows.

6.  Figure out what to do between quarters.  Specifically, the gap between the 3rd and 4th quarter.  We all know that Wisconsin’s Jump Around is the gold standard, and Nebraska seems to be desperately seeking something to call their own.  Nebraska has been throwing things up against the wall for years, looking for something to stick.  Here are some of the ones from the last ten years (ranked worst to best):

  • An ill-fated attempt to get one half of the stadium to chant “Can’t be beat”, while the other half responds “Won’t be beat”.   This ranks with the Chip Davis “Nebraska Alma Mater” on the list of bad ideas.
  • The HuskerVision version of the shell game (Valentino’s “Eye the Pie”, as well as an earlier Runza-themed version) where fans follow a pizza or Husker logo as it is shuffled around.  Aside from a pre-game $1 wager with my buddy Tony on where the logo would appear (left, right, or middle), there wasn’t much going on there.
  • The NU drum line goes out on the field to do a drum cadence for one corner of the stadium (usually the students) while the flag line twirls neon rifles.  Look:  I like the NU drum line, and you had better believe that if I stumble across the cinematic classic Drumline on TNT, I’m watching it until the final battle.  But when they focus on one corner of the stadium, the rest of us sit there and twiddle our thumbs.  I think having the drum line on the field has potential, but maybe let’s use this for the gap between the first and second quarter.
  • The band plays “Hey Baby“.  I like the song, but it doesn’t exactly get one fired up for the final 15 minutes of football.  Keep it for a random TV timeout.
  • An attempt to replicate Wisconsin’s Jump Around, with another mid 90’s hip hop favorite:  DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat”.  I like the song – I swear they played it twice a night at Iguana’s back in my college days – but let’s call it what it is:  a cheap Wisconsin knock-off.  Plus, I personally find it unsettling to think that when I was stumbling around Iggy’s listening to DJ Kool, current UNL students were stumbling around their parents’ houses in diapers.
  • A reprise of the Husker Power chant.  Arguably, this is the best they’ve come up with, but it never matches the volume or intensity of the pregame version.

I like the suggestion by Jack Mitchell of KLIN radio to use Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”.  I think that done correctly (i.e. with full use of the HuskerVision screens and the ribbon boards) it could be a spine-tinglingly cool moment – and it would not be a cheap knock off of Jump Around.

7.  More replays, please.  Let me start to giving credit to HuskerVision for showing multiple replays of some plays under review – sometimes in super slo-mo.  They have done a nice job of taking advantage of this change in Big Ten policy.  Let me also acknowledge that with today’s high tempo offenses, it is tough to do a branded replay (sponsor logo, replay, sponsor logo) when an offense is snapping the ball with 31 seconds left on the play clock.  I get that.  And finally, I love how Nebraska touchdowns are replayed from every single camera angle.

But, there are still opportunities to do more.

When there is a dead ball (and HuskerVision is not running another feature or ad), fire up some replays.  Show another angle of that Randy Gregory sack.  Give me slo-mo of the Quincy Enunwa block that helped spring Ameer Abdullah.  Play that footage of John Papuchis jumping up in the air after that three and out.

And when there is a questionable call – or one under review – replay the crap out of that sucker.  I love the game day experience in the stadium, but I hate having to text my buddy at the bar to see if the ref got the call right.

8.  Give me stats, stat.  This is another one where I must start by giving credit.  I know that if I want to see the rush or pass yards, first downs, turnovers, or sacks for either team, I can look at the big screen in north.  Those stats and others (time of possession, penalties, etc.) are also rotated every so often on the ribbon boards.  Individual stats (quarterback passing numbers, rushing attempts and yards, tackle info for defenders) appears less frequently as part of a Click It Or Ticket “Who’s Clicking” promotion on the ribbon boards.

I want more.

I want to know how many three and outs the defense has gotten.  When it is third down, I want to see what NU has done on 3rd down today and for the season.  If Abdullah has gotten over 100 yards yet.  How many yards he has on the season.  Has he moved up a notch on the all-time charts?  Share that information with us.  Use the ribbon boards, rotate the info on the north HuskerVision box score.

9.  Create a Husker Gameday App.  Disclaimer:  I cannot take credit for the original idea on this – I listened as a caller suggested it on the Sharp & Benning radio show.  With all due credit and respect to the person who suggested this, I’m going to run with it and hopefully expand upon the original idea.  Just know that I’m not claiming this as my own.

Download the free app, then scan the QR code on the back of your ticket* to access exclusive content and information – live stats, interactive rosters and player bios, depth charts, access to the Husker record books, and historical info on previous matchups with today’s opponent.  But that’s not all…

The app also gives you the ability to view the feed from any HuskerVision camera – live action, replays, highlights, you name it.  Thanks to the BTN partnership, you can not only get up to the minute scores, stats, and standing from other games involving Big Ten teams, you can also view their scoring plays.

The possibilities are limitless:  interactive fan votes (who is the fan’s choice for player of the game?  Is the Valentino’s logo behind pizza 1, 2, or 3?, punt or go for it on 4th down?), integration with social media, special offers from athletic department partners, etc.

*Yes, the special game content would only be for those who have purchased tickets.  Those without tickets would have basic stats and scores.  Consider it an added perk of getting to go to a game.

10.  Rearrange Memorial Stadium.  I’m saving the biggest (and most drastic) change for last.  I ask that you keep an open mind, please.

Have you ever really studied where things are at in Memorial Stadium?  Asked yourself why things are where they are – and more importantly – if they could be better served somewhere else?  I have.  Frankly, there are several things that don’t make sense from a perspective of maximizing home field advantage – that is, making it as easy as possible for Nebraska, and as hard as possible for their opponent to win in Lincoln.  Shouldn’t that be the goal?

So we fix them.  Rearrange them.  Drop some feng shui on the old grey lady with the goal of creating a tougher place for visiting teams to win.

The first order of business?  Nebraska moves from the east to the west sideline.

Why?  Two key reasons:

  1. That’s the shady side of the field.  Those early September games where it is 95 degrees?  Let the other team roast in the sun while the Huskers stay relatively cool in the shade.  Those 2:30 kickoffs in late October where the sun starts to set during the second half?  Let the other team’s coaches have to squint into a blinding sunset.  Why should Nebraska put itself at a disadvantage in their own house?
  2. It’s the quiet side.  As much flack as the West Stadium “blue hairs” get, they’re not going anywhere in my reconfigured stadium.  Let the old money have their good seats on the yard lines.  But since the West crowd isn’t exactly known for being vociferous, they are better candidates to sit behind NU’s bench than a full marching band like NU has on the east side.

Next, we move the students.  A strong (and loud) student section is at the heart of any home field advantage.  Nebraska’s student section has serious potential, and there have been a few student groups looking to improve the experience, but NU continually sells their students short.  Every A.D. since Bill Byrne (including Osborne) has moved the students further away from the action, and minimized their ability to have an impact on the game.  Currently, they are crammed up in a corner of the south end zone, away from where they can make an impact on the game.

But with my plan, the students are moving out of the upper altitudes of sections 12, 13, and 14.  They’re headed east to prime seating:  The lower level of East stadium.  The band shifts down a couple of sections (from section 9 on the south 20 yard line to section 6) and acts as the centerpiece of the student section, located (not so coincidentally) right behind the other team’s bench.  The students fill in around the band, turning East stadium into a raucous bowl of noise focused on the opposing bench and capable of boosting the volume in either end zone.

I know this will be controversial.  I know some will question why the students should be rewarded with excellent seats when they have been leaving entire sections empty in their current block of seats.  That is a valid concern, but I believe the students will step up and appreciate their new seats – especially if the understanding between the Athletic Department and the various student organizations is “use ’em or lose ’em”.

I understand that you will lose some donors when they have to move from row 20 on the 40 yard line to row 75 in the corner of the end zone.  I get that.  But I challenge the University to look at this from a long-term perspective:

  • I would contend that a strong student section leads to a strong home field advantage.  A strong home field advantage can equal one or two extra wins per year.  What is the monetary value of an extra win or two each year?  Of 9 wins instead of 8?  Of 10 wins instead of 9?  In the 2013 season, with two extra wins, Nebraska could have won the Legends Division and qualified for a better bowl game.
  • Today’s students are tomorrow’s donor and boosters.  Who is more likely to donate to Dear Old Nebraska U:  the alum who spent four years in great seats on the east sideline, or the one who spent that time as an afterthought in the upper reaches of the southeast corner feeling like the University didn’t care about or appreciate them?

And there is one additional secret benefit:  it gets rid of some of Memorial Stadium’s worst seats.  The last ten or so rows of sections 1, 2, 10, and 11 are horrible for watching games.  Your view is obstructed by the side wall of East Stadium – you lose anywhere from 5 – 25 yards of the field.  That sucks.  You wouldn’t want to pay face value (plus donation) for those seats.  There are some monitors hanging from the ceiling, but it’s not the same.  However, we know the students will pack in to the lower rows anyway, the University can “sell” these obstructed view seats without having a donor, alum, or other fan getting upset.

For the most part, the folks in the North and South Stadiums stay as they are – although some shuffling may be needed to accommodate the folks from East who are being relocated.

And like that, we have greatly amplified the home field advantage at Memorial Stadium.

*   *   *

You may notice there are some other common suggestion that did not make my list.  Let me explain why:

  • Get rid of the HuskerVision ads (such as the ridiculous Pepsi races).  I won’t argue that these features are boring and do nothing to boost the energy.  The cold reality of big TV contracts is lengthy TV timeouts.  Another cold reality is that money from those annoying Pepsi ads helps pay the bills for the excellent work that HuskerVision does.
  • Sell beer in the stadium.  Never, ever, ever gonna happen.
  • Have more “blackout” games.  I appreciate the folks who start these things, as their heart is in the right spot.  But I firmly believe that nothing will be more intimidating for an opposing player than the Sea of Red.  You’re never going to get 90,000 people to change their routine and put on a black shirt, which leaves the stadium looking mottled.  Instead, encourage everybody to wear red.  It would be easier (only have to get about 10,000 to convert) and would make a bigger impact.
  • Encourage fans to wave towels.  I am not a fan of the power towel / rally towel idea.  To each their own, but I’d rather have fans (read:  students) yelling and clapping instead of waving a piece of terry cloth.
  • More flyovers.  I miss the excitement of a good pregame flyover when an Air Force jet goes roaring over the stadium right as the National Anthem ends.  That always gets the juices flowing.  But budget cuts, sequesters, and government shut-downs have essentially ended military fly overs.  Nebraska has used some private planes in the last few seasons, but most of those are just not the same.

There is no doubt in my mind that Nebraska can improve upon an already excellent game day experience, and also create an excellent home field advantage

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